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Twitter accounts of Obama, Biden, Bill Gates hacked

16 Jul 2020 09:26, Somoy English Desk
Twitter accounts of Obama, Biden, Bill Gates hacked
Twitter accounts of Obama, Biden, Bill Gates hacked

Twitter accounts of Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Apple, among other prominent handles, were compromised on Wednesday and posted tweets that appeared to promote a cryptocurrency scam.

The accounts, along with those of former US President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Mike Bloomberg, posted similar tweets soliciting donations via Bitcoin to their verified profiles on Wednesday, reports CNN.

"Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time," Gates' tweet said, promising to double all payments to a Bitcoin address for the next 30 minutes. 

In a tweet on Wednesday, CEO Jack Dorsey said it was a "tough day for us at Twitter."

"We all feel terrible this happened," Dorsey said. "We're diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened."

A little more than an hour after the attack began, Twitter apparently moved to prevent holders of verified accounts from tweeting. Non-verified accounts could still tweet, however.

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"You may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address this incident," Twitter's support account said, subsequently adding that "some other account functionalities" would also be limited. 

The sheer number of prominent accounts impacted made it arguably the biggest security incident in Twitter's history. A hack like this is particularly concerning not just because of any financial scam that can be run, but because so many world leaders use Twitter -- and some, like President Donald Trump, use it to announce major policy decisions. A hack that took over an account belonging to one of those leaders could have devastating consequences.

Last year, Dorsey's account was hacked, raising concerns about whether any account on the platform can truly avoid being compromised. The mechanism by which that hack occurred was fixed by Twitter after Dorsey's hack and there's no reason to believe it is to blame here.

A campaign aide for Biden said Twitter "locked down" his account immediately. "We remain in touch with Twitter on the matter," the aide added.

“We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates," a spokesperson for Gates told CNN Business. "This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account."

Asked whether it was concerned about the President's account potentially being affected, or whether it was in touch with Twitter about the issue, the White House declined comment.

The first Bitcoin wallet featured in some of the tweets only became active on Wednesday, Tim Cotten, a Bitcoin researcher, told CNN Business. In the hours immediately after the wallet's identification number was posted to Twitter, it received more than $100,000 worth of Bitcoins through hundreds of transactions, Cotten said.

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